WASHINGTON --- For over a year, the US Navy and its shipbuilders have been anxious to get the new aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) to sea and begin engineering trials of the first-of-class design. A number of publicly-announced target dates have come and gone, but the ship is still firmly moored at Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia.
Now, however, a key factor in preventing the ship from casting off lines and getting underway is coming into view. A serious voltage regulator problem on the carrier’s four main turbine generators (MTGs) has prevented engineers from running the motors up to full power, and only now has the problem been identified and a fix decided upon.
The MTGs are a significant element in the ship’s power generation system – an all-new layout supporting a plant developing at least three times the electrical power of previous carriers.
The problem manifested itself June 12 when a small electrical explosion took place on the No. 2 MTG during testing. Navy sources disagree whether the term “explosion” is appropriate, but two sources familiar with the situation used the reference, one noting that “it was enough of an explosion that debris got into the turbine.” Smoke from the event reportedly was drawn into other spaces, one source reported.
According to Capt. Thurraya Kent, spokesperson for the Navy’s acquisition directorate, “personnel detected a burning smell.” There was no fire, Kent insisted, and “no fire-extinguishing actions were taken.” No one was injured and there was no evacuation of personnel, she added.
In a statement responding to a Defense News query, Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) said the issues “were not associated with the nuclear reactor plant and had no impact on safe operation of the nuclear reactor.”
On the record, NAVSEA declined to provide further details, other than to acknowledge that two MTG issues have been experienced. (end of excerpt)
Click here for the full story, on the Defense News website.